With the retirement of Senator Alexander, a race is on to become Tennessee’s next senator.
It’s up to sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts to let candidates know that the great outdoors is an important voting issue. So, Tennessee Wildlife Federation asked every candidate to share their views on conservation, and below are the responses we received.
Below are the views of candidate Bill Hagerty. All answers, information, and images are unedited and appear as they were provided by the campaign.
Primary voting ends August 6. Find your polling location here.
Federation: Do you have a favorite public land in Tennessee? What do you enjoy doing there?
Hagerty: I’m an Eagle Scout and so are my two boys, William and Stephen. We’ve camped, hiked, fished and gone hunting all across Tennessee. Some of our favorite memories are from the Tennessee Valley area, especially Polk and Bradley Counties. I take my family kayaking every fall on the Hiwassee River. We love to swim on the Buffalo River in the summers at Metal Ford. We’ve hiked so many beautiful trails and camped amidst spectacular scenery across the state. We are so fortunate to live in such a beautiful state. Our family enjoys the quality time and the chance to connect with nature. Of course, we cherish our time together. Some of my fondest memories, as a child and now as a father, are from days spent outdoors.
Federation: There are a lot of issues facing our natural resources and the Tennesseans who depend on them for recreation and their livelihood. Please rank these issues in the order they are most important to you and please explain the reason for your number one pick.
- Support for private land management for wildlife
- Fund adequate responses to non-native invasive species, like Asian carp
- Strategic public lands growth and access for conservation and recreation
- Implement high-impact aquatic habitat projects to improve our waters
- Invest in wildlife management to prevent endangered and threatened species
- Federal funding and other support to combat Chronic Wasting Disease in deer
The most important issue to me is support for private land management. In almost all cases I believe that matters are best handled by those closest to them – not by the federal government – and land management is no different. In Tennessee, the majority of our state belongs to private landowners. The best way we can support private landowners is by incentivizing them with tools and funds to maintain their land so that all of Tennessee benefits.
It’s also imperative that we solve our Asian Carp crisis. This invasive species not only injures boaters, but if we don’t solve this problem soon this species will adversely affect our fishing and tourism industries – costing jobs and livelihoods. If elected to the Senate, I’ll work with the Tennessee Wildlife Federation and Senator Marsha Blackburn to fix this problem once and for all.
Federation: Last fall, a Tennessee Wildlife Federation-led effort successfully secured $25 million of federal funding to fight Asian carp. It is a one-time appropriation that is split among several states. If you are elected, how would you support similar efforts? What you would do differently?
Hagerty: The Asian Carp crisis has been an issue for Tennessee’s fishing and hunting industries for far too long and needs to be addressed. Just like we’re seeing in other areas, public-private partnerships are effective. I believe we can apply this same strategy to reduce and eliminate the Asian Carp population in Tennessee. In the Senate, I will apply my business experience to help solve this crisis and ensure our fishing and tourism industries remain vibrant.
Federation: As a senator, what would you do for our natural resources, from public lands to wildlife and water, that are held in the public trust—that are collectively owned by all Americans?
Hagerty: As an Eagle Scout, I’ve learned to love our country and Tennessee’s great outdoors. I grew up camping, fishing, hunting, hiking and other outdoor sporting activities. I’ve passed these traditions and experiences on to my children. It’s important that we maintain our public lands in a fiscally responsible manner. As your Senator, I will work to make sure our national and state parks are preserved so Tennesseans can enjoy them for years to come.
Federation: Tennessee Wildlife Federation operates a number of programs to improve the great outdoors and Tennesseans’ lives, including habitat restoration work, Hunters for the Hungry, and even creating new sportsmen through Hunting and Fishing Academy. What support would you look to provide as a senator?
Hagerty: As a proud supporter of the Second Amendment and an avid hunter and father — I know that kids benefit greatly from access to the outdoors. But it doesn’t stop at childhood. We all benefit from access to outdoor sporting activities. Our parks provide that access to so many who otherwise would not have access. I look forward to supporting policies that enhance and engage sportsmen more directly so that we have future generations of Tennessee hunters and fishers and the access necessary for them to enjoy and appreciate our wonderful statewide environment.
Federation: A significant number of Tennessee streams, rivers, and lakes are unable to support healthy aquatic life. What would you do as Senator to heal this backbone of our environment and many local economies in the state?
Hagerty: When I was a boy, I camped and fished a lot. The fish population was abundant, but now we have seen a reduction because of invasive species like the Asian Carp. As your Senator, I’ll work with the Tennessee Wildlife Federation to ensure they have access to proper federal grants which will ensure access to the resources needed to help heal our important waterways.
Federation: What did we not ask you today that you’d tell Tennessee’s outdoor enthusiasts?
Hagerty: We had a small farm in Sumner County when I grew up. I raised cattle and pigs as a kid and served as President of my local Future Farmers of America chapter. I’m an Eagle Scout and my boys have followed in that tradition — both are Eagle Scouts too. Our family has a strong camping and hiking tradition that has enabled us to visit and appreciate many of Tennessee’ great parks. We love visiting Tennessee’s public lands and parks, like Natchez Trace State Park. Like many Tennesseans, we are avid campers, hunters and fishers. As your next Senator, I will fight to protect our state’s beauty and help provide resources to ensure future Tennessee sportsmen can enjoy outdoor access for years to come.